Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An Ordered Life

“The way you keep your house,
the way you organize your time,
the care you take in your personal appearance,
the things you spend your money on,
all speak loudly about what you believe.
The beauty of thy peace shines forth in an ordered life.
 A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.”
~Elisabeth Elliot

My friend, Amanda, posted this beautiful quote.
I think it is so true.
Not that everything has to go perfectly smooth in your life, or that your home has to be squeaky clean, or that your yard has to be perfectly manicured.
No, things don't need to be perfect.
Believe me, this has taken me a long time to come to grips with.

There is a balance and order, though, to keeping your life.
It comes from having peace that God is in control and that He is a God of order and beauty and creativity.
If you are listening to Him, delving into His word daily, and striving to live life to its fullest...with the peace that He knows your very next step and what is going to happen tomorrow...your life will have order.
Taking care of what you have been blessed with and sharing it to the best of your ability...
Organizing your time and your home so that you make it a place of rest and peace...
a haven for those that live there as well as those who pass by.
Caring about your appearance and knowing that you are a masterpiece in God's eyes...
Being content with what you are blessed with at this very moment and having a heart of grace and gratitude...
This is the kind of peace that I strive for.

The state of your heart is what fosters the way things look around you.
It's not about putting up a good "front,"  comparing yourself to others, or caring more about how everything looks around you to impress friends.
Bringing order to your life is really about letting the state of your heart change and morph into something that is lovely and so full of peace that it can only spill forth into what your life "looks like."

It's the peace of Christ that shines forth in an ordered life....and your life and gifts are a reflection of who Christ is.

Sometimes I fall short....and you know what...it is OK.
 When you have that sense of peace and calmness in your heart, you can pick up where you left off.
Brush off the dirt.
Get back up and let the beauty shine through in the midst of whatever life throws your way. 
The Lord's peace is like a shield that shelters you from all of the hardships that may come in life.

There are a few people that I know who truly exude this kind of peace.
Do you know someone like that?
When you stand next to them you can feel peace.
My Aunt Barbara is like this and I admire her so much.
She is a woman of God's peace and grace.
She has always lived a life that is ordered and lovely.
Her home is one that you just want to stay and stay... it is cozy, warm, welcoming and shines of her hospitality and talent.
She always looks beautiful and she taught me so many fun little beauty tips when I was little.
She and my Uncle have always spent wisely.
Now they are able to thoroughly enjoy their life as semi-retirees:).

I am sure that her life has had many a bump in the road, but her outlook is always the same.
She looks to God first.
I can remember riding home from school one Winter day with her, and the car started to slip backwards down a snowy hill.
She didn't scream or panic {out loud}...she just said, "Everybody PRAY!!"
And pray we did...and we didn't stop until two big guys stopped the car and helped us turn it around.
She told them they were angels:).

If I could just remember to pray first in everything, I wonder how much of my life would shine through with the beauty of peace.

Wishing you a day full of God's abundant grace, order, peace...so that your life can speak loudly of what you believe:).

~Julia

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Making Jam Without Pectin and Using Honey as a Sweetener

A while back I posted about a friend who had emailed me about a recipe for jam without pectin and using honey as a sweetener.
Well, the only time I had tried that method was to cook down apples or plums into a butter.
Technically, the end result is a butter or a conserve.
We had a chance to pick raspberries yesterday...all we could for $6.
What a fun deal!
So I went home immediately and washed and prepared my berries, but not before the kids and I had a big bowl topped with a little milk and sugar.
Mmmm...my favorite way to enjoy raspberries.

Afterwards, I made jam.


The old fashioned way and I have to tell you that I am hooked!
This simple method produces the most delectable jam and it has a lovely consistency!
Instead of pectin, you use lemon juice and the natural pectin in a fresh apple.
Who doesn't have an apple or lemon juice in their house?
So, this is great when you are in a pinch and don't want to run to the store for pectin.
Thanks to 100 Days of Real Food for the recipe!
Her blog is amazing!!

The honey was a really wonderful sweetener and I did end up adding a little extra because I don't think my berries were super sweet...or maybe I just have a terrible sweet tooth:).
One thing to consider when choosing a honey is that you want one that compliments the berries.
I used a standard clover, which I think is kind of universal in flavor.
But you wouldn't want to use something like sage blossom honey with raspberries.
Look for varieties that compliment like orange blossom or raspberry blossom.

If you are looking to substitute honey for sugar in your canning recipes, I generally use it cup for cup in place of sugar. 
HERE is more information on how to cook with honey.

Here is the recipe {Original from 100 Days of Real Food...a great blog!!}
*I substituted raspberries for strawberries.

Honey Raspberry Jam Made Without Pectin

6 pounds fresh raspberries
4 cups honey
1 1/2 apples unpeeled and grated
1 1/2 TBS lemon juice

Yield: 6 pints
Cook Time: about 30-60 minutes
Processing Time: 10 minutes
{Directions re-printed from 100 Days of Real Food}
To view original post click HERE.

Make Jam: Rinse the berries and remove any spoiled or severely blemished ones. Add the berries, honey, grated apple, and lemon juice to a large pot over high heat. Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium and allow the mixture to continue to boil lightly for approximately 30-60 minutes. {My jam took about an hour.} The berries will burst and thicken so be sure to scrape the sides of the pot and stir as you go. The longer the jam cooks the thicker the final product will be.

Mash the fruit with a potato masher once the fruit begins to soften. If foam forms on top of the fruit you can skim and discard if desired.

Prepare Jars: Meanwhile fill the canning pot ¾ full with water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. If you don’t have your jars sterilizing in a hot dishwasher you can use this pot of water to sterilize them. Also start a small pot of boiling water to sterilize the lids separately. Be sure to wash all jar pieces in hot soapy water first.

Once the water is boiling turn off the heat. Test the temperature with your thermometer and when it reaches 180 degrees F put the jars and bands in the large pot and the lids in the small pot. Leave everything in the hot water until ready for use, removing one at a time as needed.

When the jam is done cooking do a taste test to make sure the thickness and flavor is to your liking. Hint: Drop dots of jam on a cold refrigerated plate, if it seems to set up, it is done. You can also see if it coats the back of a spoon.

Remove the first jar from the hot water using your jar lifter tool and shake out excess water. Don’t touch inside of the jar in order to keep it sterilized. Insert clean canning funnel and ladle the jam into the jar leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top. If there are any air bubbles you can slide a clean knife along the inside of the jar to remove them. Using a clean rag wipe excess off the outside of the jar and rim.

Using a magnetic lid lifter pull the first lid out of the hot water and set on top of the jar without touching the bottom of it. Then while only touching the outside of the band screw it onto the jar just firmly enough so it doesn’t feel wobbly on the grooves. Repeat until all jars are filled.

Using a magnetic lid lifter pull the first lid out of the hot water and set on top of the jar without touching the bottom of it. Then while only touching the outside of the band screw it onto the jar just firmly enough so it doesn’t feel wobbly on the grooves. Repeat until all jars are filled.

Note (If you don’t want to actually “can” the jam): You could stop here and refrigerate jam for 3 – 4 weeks. To freeze the jam make sure you used freezer-safe jars, allow it to cool, and put in freezer for up to one year.

Process the Jars: Bring large pot of water back to a boil. Using your jar lifter (or canning rack) carefully lower as many jars that will fit without overcrowding into the boiling water so they are covered by at least 1 – 2 inches of water. It is recommended that the jars do not directly touch the bottom of the pot (so hot water can flow beneath them) and some even suggest putting a dish towel on the bottom to create space. From the moment the water is boiling and the entire first batch of jars are submerged set the timer and process them for 10 minutes.

When 10 minutes is over use the jar lifter to carefully remove the jars from the water. Put them on the counter and don’t move them right away. You will hear your jar lids “popping” which means they have been sealed properly. If jars aren’t sealed within 12 hours then move them to the fridge and eat within 3 – 4 weeks.

Remove bands from sealed jars and with a clean, wet cloth wipe off any jam that has congealed on the outside rim of the jar. This prevents mold from forming on the band. The band can be reapplied, but don’t screw them on too tightly.

Label jar and store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.


The consistency turned out soo well!
I was actually a little surprised, but very happy with the taste and texture.
I am definitely trying this again and adding different combinations of fruit.

Enjoy your day!
~Julia

Monday, July 9, 2012

Haying

Even though we only have a small farm, this time of the year is super busy...
a good kind of busy.
Everything else in life gets put on hold for the few days we are haying.

Here are some very random snap shots of our life right now:)...



Our oldest is helping bale this year.


My sweet Tim {who does not like me to take his picture} is a parts runner/lunch and dinner runner/ water deliverer.
The days have been HOT here!
 I keep watering, watering in 100 degree heat!
And making meals...and taking pictures:).



The dogs just love to catch mice and times are good when the baler is running.


I think it is so funny when they stick their heads down the mouse hole...a little "ostrich" impression:).

 My Mom bought this lovely flag for me.
I thought it looked so patriotic on the front porch:).

I'm not sure which one of the kids took this picture, but I love the early morning cup of tea and view of the sprinkler running.
We always have tea together in the morning.
I love that time with my Hubby and kids.

And the cool breeze from an open window in the morning is just the best in this heat!
Isn't it?

Hope you are staying cool:). 

~Julia

Friday, July 6, 2012

How I Grow Pumpkins

Pumpkins are such a fun vegetable to grow and this year I tried to plant a lot!
I think I ended up with 25 hills germinating, and I am hoping that by hand pollinating, I will have many pumpkins and gourds.
We have a little later frost here in Central WA and to speed up the process, I use this industrial grade fabric that I received from my brother who is in construction.
I have holes cut where I plant each hill and just lay it out in the late Spring.



Rocks are used to keep it in place...we have a lot of wind here!
The black fabric heats up the soil and {best of all} there are virtually NO WEEDS! Yay!


I only have one 25'x12' piece of the construction fabric, and so I use black plastic for the rest of my hills.
Same concept...just cut holes where the hills will go.
I did use some wood chips to keep the plastic in place...it worked great.
The black plastic is less "eco friendly," so if you are worried about it, the construction fabric is the way to go.


I do eventually cover the plastic with straw so that the gourds have a soft place to ripen.


I till the soil in each hill with a shovel and usually put some rich manure filled soil to enrich it.
I let the dirt cover around the opening in the plastic/fabric so that the wind can't whip it around.
The seeds germinate much faster, and the heat created from the cover really helps the plants grow quickly.

After the season is done, I just pull up the fabric, shake it off, and fold it up to be reused next year.
It will last forever!
The black plastic might last two seasons, but most of the time I buy a new roll.


It really makes growing pumpkins easy and less time-consuming.
~~~
If you are interested in purchasing construction grade landscape fabric, you can contact your local construction supply store to see if they carry the product.
It lasts forever and is worth the investment!
There is a fabric called "Nonwoven Propex 4553" which is not treated with any toxic products and made by Propex Fabrics at geotextile.com.
You could call and locate a dealer near you HERE  :).

Have a great weekend!

~Julia

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Fourth

How was your celebration?
I hope it was wonderful and exciting:).
The Fourth of July is such a fun day for us...even though we are smack dab in the middle of haying.
We're tired, both mentally and physically this time of the year, but celebrating our country just adds a little "spark" to our incredibly busy time:).
Here are a few pictures from our day...



 My Dad almost threw this little table away!
Mom wasn't using it, so the kids painted it for me and then distressed.
I have had it everywhere!
In the kitchen, I am going to use it when I am canning.
It has been sooo useful and easy to move around from indoors to outdoors.

Our favorite....juicy watermelon!

 My climbing roses are in bloom and looked so ready for the Fourth of July!
 The hay is down.
Darren spent the day fluffing it into billowy rows.

We sit in chairs fluffed with pillows and cozy blankets and finish the day watching a "show" that the kids put on.
Just little fireworks...as the whole field could go up!
The kids really love it, though!
 My boys...they LOVE this!







Afterwards, the whole valley is a display and we sit late into the night admiring the "big" fireworks.
The red moon last night was a spectacular view, too.
Isn't it pretty?
~~~
I'm so tired today, but it is back to work:).
Tomorrow, I will post about how I grow my pumpkins.
I apologize to those of you who read regularly...I promised weeks ago!
But this summer my garden is doing very poorly. Our weather has been tough.
Finally, I have pumpkins that are thriving and I will snap a few pictures to show you tomorrow!!
There is very minimal weeding involved, which is a good thing:).

~Julia


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth to You!


Hot dogs are on the grill and the kids are planning a spectacular show...hope you have a wonderful day celebrating this great country we are so blessed to live in!

~Julia

Monday, July 2, 2012

How to Dehydrate Cherries

My Mom was so nice the other night to run into town and pick up 10# of Bing cherries for me.


We have had a really wet summer so far, and some of the cherry crops in the area are ruined.
I am really hoping I can find more!!
We LOVE them fresh, and if I have enough, I make jam.
Today, I decided to dehydrate them.
Oh, dried cherries are sooo good AND sooo expensive at the store!
Last time I checked, they were around $10 a pound.
Buying them at $1 a pound and dehydrating yourself works great.

I also watch for free deals, too.
Sometimes people have fruit trees in their back yards and are more than willing to let you pick all you want in exchange for a cherry pie:).

To dry cherries {according to the Ball Canning Book}:
Choose sweet or sour varieties.
Wash them thoroughly.
Using a cherry pitter, or your fingers, halve and take the pit out.
Place them in your dehydrator and set the temp at 165 degrees for 2-3 hours.

Then dry at 135 degrees until leathery and slightly sticky.
If you are worried about moisture content, just put a few of the dried cherries in a plastic lunch bag and seal.
If condensation occurs in the bag, then the fruit needs a little more time.
My cherries were dry in about 10 hours.

You can use dried sweet cherries as a snack or in place of raisins in baked goods. 
Use sour varieties in baked goods.

Here is a link on how to dry cherries in your oven...if you don't have a dehydrator.

Have a great day!

~Julia


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